India set to approve use of GM mustard seeds

Indian agri-food authorities are shortly expected to give approval for the commercial use of indigenously developed genetically modified mustard seeds.

India’s Environment Ministry has given technical clearance for the seeds, which could soon become India’s first GM food crop.

The GM mustard seed was developed by Delhi University scientists. It uses three genes already incorporated in rapeseed hybrids in the US, Canada and Australia.

Extensive biosafety tests have shown no cause for concern, states a field trial report submitted to India’s government and seen by Reuters news agency.

India is reviewing how GM crops could alleviate pressure on its low-tech, low yield farmers. Cultivable land in India is shrinking and weather patterns have become less predictable.

India spends billions of euro importing edible oils and other food items every year. 

However, some public opposition has already greeted the initial clearance for the GM seeds. Opponents argue GM crops could compromise food safety and biodiversity.

India’s Genetic Engineering Approval Committee is due to put up a ‘safety document’ on the issue on its website seeking comments from the public.


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